VFES student leads Pledge of Allegiance before new U.S. citizens

VFES student leads Pledge of Allegiance before new U.S. citizens
Posted on 12/19/2017

A Vienna-Finley Elementary School first-grade student stood poised as he asked more than 90 newly naturalized American citizens to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Please stand of the Pledge of Allegiance,” Griffin Owens said during the ceremony. “Put your hand beside your heart.”

Owens continued to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the crowd of about 800 people attending the naturalization ceremony on Dec. 11 at the Grand Hall at Historic Union Station in downtown Indianapolis.

“It felt great,” Owens said. “I practice at school a whole bunch.”

Each school day, Scott County School District 2 students recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

He was selected to be part of the program after his mother, Ellen, posted a video of him reading, “What is the Declaration of Independence,” on social media. The video caught the attention of senior U.S. District Judge Larry J. McKinney. Three months before the naturalization ceremony, McKinney died in September.

“He loves kids,” Owens said of the late judge.

Judge Tim A. Baker, who filled the vacancy left by McKinney’s death, honored the late judge’s wishes of having Owens be part of the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Owens sat next to a staff member of U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s office. Owens’ twin brother, Jaxon, and older brother, Cason, were his “bodyguards” for the event, and his father, Chris, who is the Scott County prosecutor, recorded the event. While on stage, Owens’ looked and sounded confident, but he said he was “very” nervous.

“We were super excited,” Ellen Owens said. “It was super cool.”

Owens’ love for United States History does not stop with the Declaration of Independence or the Pledge of Allegiance. He enjoys reading the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.

“I taught myself to read. I read anything. I like history books,” Owens said.

When speaking with Owens, his love for American history is apparent. He can recite the beginning of the Gettysburg Address, written by his favorite President Abraham Lincoln.

“He’s my favorite because he freed us,” Owens said with excitement.

His second favorite president is George Washington followed by Teddy Roosevelt, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to round out a top five. He also loves looking at the signatures on the Declaration of Independence.

When Owens grows up, he hopes to become the President of the United States.

“He’s always loved Presidents and an interest in U.S. History,” Ellen Owens said.

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